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Police Brutality in Spokane

Article below:
July 4th, 2007

I no longer believe that any civil rights I may have once had exist anymore. I had so many of my Constitutional rights taken from me this evening, it's ludicrous.

A large group of protesters of all ages and demographics (NOT just a bunch of teens like what's being portrayed by the news) met under the bridge in Peaceful Valley today. A few speeches were read aloud, reading off statistics of deaths by police brutality as compared to deaths of police on the job. An older gentleman gave an inspiring speech about standing up for our First Amendment rights on our Independence Day, and how important this march was to raise awareness of the ever increasing level of police brutality and stripping of civil rights all across the country, including our own city. A few police officers came up, and wanted to announce to us all that they support our right to protest and march, so long as we don't violate any traffic laws, and don't block traffic or anything of the sort, then there would be no problems whatsoever and we would be free to peacefully assemble and speak out.

The march went wonderfully. Police cruisers kept in constant eyesight, making sure nothing illegal was done. Lots of cars honked, waved, and shouted their support. We ended in Riverfront Park, near the clock tower, where our group proceeded to sit down to enjoy a picnic. Police surrounded us, taking pictures of all of our faces against our will. One officer told myself and one other protester that our picnic was too close to the band area by the stage, and to move it over to the other side of a designated blue spray paint line on the grass. I personally asked everyone to stand up, and we moved everything over, complying 100%. The police continued taking photographs, so we photographed them back. We asked one for his badge number and name, and he refused, saying we didn't have the right to know that. The officer then went around the group, and pushed Zach St. John off of a bucket he was sitting on. Zach jumped up, cursed at the officer, and asked why he did what he did. In response, Zach was accosted, handcuffed, choked, and beaten, right in front of all of us. We started chanting "let him go!" and asking what he did wrong. One officer grabbed my friend Meg by the throat and threw her to the ground. I yelled at him, "Why did you do that!? She didn't do anything wrong? What is your problem? No one is doing anything illegal! Let Zach go!"

The officer told me if I didn't get back, he would arrest me. I took two steps back, and asked again what Zach had gone wrong, and why they weren't reading him his rights. The officer ignored me, and I told him I wanted his name and badge number, as well as the other officers, because I wanted to report them for police misconduct. They refused, and took Zach away. Things somewhat died down afterwards, I tried my best, as did others, to maintain a sense of calm with our crowd, and convinced everyone to sit back down and we'd just bail Zach out.

Police called for reinforcements, at least 30-40 of them showed up, and had a huge grip of zip ties in hand. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and was trying to get someone with a video camera to come with me to speak to the police, and get the badge numbers and names of the officers responsible for arresting Zach. Instead, the cops came at us, batons drawn, zip-ties out, ordering us to leave the park because we were trespassing. We huddled together in a group, arm in arm, demanding to know how we were trespassing in a public park. Rather than answering us, the police started violently pushing us backwards onto the road, where more officers were waiting behind us. After separating our group into several smaller ones, they started shoving people with their batons, yelling that we were trespassing and to "get the fuck out of their park". I kept yelling back "why are you doing this? how are we trespassing? we haven't broken any laws!"

The police tore Hannah Jones away from me, and zip tied her hands. I had my arm around Savannah, trying to protect her from the cops baton that he kept shoving us back with. He ripped Savannah from me and arrested her as well. He told me to keep my hands up and that I was under arrest. I told him I would comply, but I wanted to know what I was being charged with first, and how I was supposedly trespassing in a public space. Rather than answering my simple question, the officer struck me in the hip with his baton, then struck me again in the chest with the butt of it. He grabbed me by the hair, told me I was a faggot and that I was going to jail, and handed me off to another officer. My hands were zip-tied behind my back, and I was led to a pile of people all face down, zip-tied, and in pain. I was searched, then thrown face down into the pile. Savannah was crying, and I could see her hands turning purple because her zip ties were tied so tightly. Cassie was the next one thrown into the pile. She screamed and cried as the officers zip-tied her hand, which was cut open and stitched previously to the march. She asked him over and over again to loosen the one on her right hand, because it had stitches. The cops ignored this.

Mikael Phelps was the next one I saw detained. He was yelling at an officer about Cassie's hand, and was zip tied and thrown face down, then called a retard by the officer. After a few more people were apprehended, I was picked up and escorted to a police car. Along the way, i heard many onlookers in the park asking what we had done wrong, the police didn't answer any of them. I was thrown in the back of a squad car alongside David Glen, then taken to County Jail.

I was completely compliant and kept my mouth shut all during processing. I knew I had not committed a crime today, and didn't intend to make matters any worse than they were. When processing was finished, the officer asked me to sign a paper stating that I knew why I was detained. I told him, "Officer, I have no idea why I was arrested. I didn't break any laws. No one told me what I did wrong, and no one read me any rights." The officer told me I was being charged with third degree trespassing, which is a misdemeanor. I told him I wasn't trespassing, I was just in a public park.

While in the holding cell waiting to get led upstairs, I was talking to Zach St John. His arm was cut wide open from the handcuffs, and he learned he was being charged with 2nd degree assault of a police officer, with no bail.

I was fingerprinted, and made to strip off my clothes and put on a pair of pink underwear, pink socks, and blue overalls. I was given a comb, a toothbrush, toothpaste, one blanket, a pink towel, and one sheet, and led to my cell. David and I were in the cell together for several hours before my mother came and posted my $500 bail.

I am now at home, reading through the news websites of what they claimed happen. I want it to be known right now, that neither myself, nor anyone involved in this protest today, committed any sort of crime, nor did we break any law whatsoever. Our protest was against police brutality, and the actions of Spokane's finest this evening proved even more so that the cops in this town are completely out of control. Hundreds of people in Riverfront Park today watched myself and 16 others get my civil liberties taken away, and witnessed us being treated like common animals. Not a single one of us were ever read any rights. Not a single one of us were told why we were being arrested, other than trespassing. From what I heard from the officers in the park today, there was no dispersal order. There was no warning. There was no reason for any of this. I am so utterly disgusted to be an American today.

One of the signs today said "police the police". Who is there to stop people like this from being able to get away with these kinds of actions?

Some video footage:
 http://www.spokanetogo.com/news-video/?mgid=6945


I have a court arraignment tomorrow to see about fighting to get my charges dropped. However, I imagine not a single one of those abusive, power-hungry police officers will get any sort of punishment for the atrocious acts they commited on us today.

spokane cops r vicious 05.Jul.2007 16:55

jobas

I've seen them let into someone cause they had a mowhawk
I've even seen them taunt and harass a lesbian couple
I totally dont put it past them

its complete bullshit but it sounds like they wanted a reason to kick the protestors out, so they litterally pushed and pushed until one of them literally stood up (from sitting on a bucket) and thats all it took for the police to cry fowl and start throwing chokeholds and batons

Yall should seriously sue them.

They are not going to stop by you simply refuting bullshit charges, you have to make them pay lots of money and make it a political issue.

let us know if you need more help

I almost got run over by two of them 05.Jul.2007 18:33

About 20 years ago

Sounds like they have not changed. I was in an intersection crossing with the signal on foot when two Spokane PD cruisers passed by me within inches front and back against the red light. They were going an insane rate of speed and if I did not know any better I would say they were racing . I think I am only alive because I was lucky enough to be in between lanes. I bet they never even saw me.

I am not going to tell you what to do but I will make this observation: In my experience, a city that loses a bunch of money in lawsuits will change police policies faster than most....

Sue 05.Jul.2007 19:02

Den Mark, Vancouver

Local media & politicians won't care about what you went thru, but courts might. Portland has had incidents like yours, of out-of-control cops, & some citizens sued, & WON! I see in Spokane's paper that an attorney has offered pro bono service. Take him up on it. And don't just sue the city; sue individual cops, too.

Outrageous 05.Jul.2007 20:54

gk

Those cops are totally out of control. I couldn't be thrown face down and be mauled like that. That is frightening. They can't get by with that. Den's right. Sue them! I feel for all of you.

thank you 06.Jul.2007 09:06

adriane

Thank you for reporting on this.
What you did was very important, for you and your friends, and for the rest of us.
Being silent on these things is easy, being vocal can be alternately empowering and scary.
When I was arrested similarly I was scared. When my friends were arrested I was frustrated, scared, angry. I didn't realize how much it would shake me up. You should prepare yourself for the effects that this brutality might have. I would recommend trying to talk to other folks in the group about the protest and the police so that no one is isolated. Its easy for folks to drift into their own bubble and the emotional drain from this kind of a thing can really send folks into a tailspin if they are alone.
But please know that you will be ok, and that others have been through this, that it was wrong, and that if you work together at it, something good can come out if it, but that it might be hard, in some cases very hard.

Thanks again

Camera documentation! 06.Jul.2007 20:45

Eyes needed

Never, ever, get involved in cop confrontations (any business or discussion with cops will turn confrontational without a camera) Unless several of your group are armed with still and vid cameras. Nothing like good footage to convince a civil jury to make large awards. Just ask POPO coppers.

Hey! How do you get informed of when and where? 07.Jul.2007 09:51

Nicole Culp lvngene4ever@yahoo.com

My husband was killed by the police in October of 2006, I have been desperatley trying to get involved with something like this.
I would of "hitchhiked" to the protest if I had to!
I would love to see a protest against police brutality in the Seattle area, I just don't know hiow to get it going?
Anyone have any pointers? I am very serious and because of the attitude of the law enforcement officials that were at the inquest I am more determined than ever!!!!!!!!
Thanx, Nicole Culp
E-Mail is  lvngene4ever@yahoo.com